The Depth of Darkness starts fairly innocently, and trundles along without much hint of what's to come. The initial plot points are subtle enough to keep the reader unsure as to what the main story arc is going to be. Once it clicks, however, it doesn't let up.
Mortimer builds characters quickly and distinctly - and then makes use of the idiosyncrasies he has given them, sometimes to drive the entire plot along, but without too much in the way of bludgeoning the reader with the subtleties.
I was impressed by the world Mortimer built - it was clearly a lot of work and a labour of love, and it's explained to the reader pretty well as the story unfolds. The bits and pieces fit very well together - reminiscent in some places of Dan Simmons' "Endymion" books. Also, whether it was intentional or not, there's a great "You can't stop the signal" moment which appealed to the Firefly lover in me!
My only disappointment with this was that such preparation could make for some seriously epic storytelling, which this didn't offer. Having said that, I also think that there would have been a danger of the story becoming bloated if Mortimer had tried to do that.
The writing is clunky in descriptive passages and dialogue, and I'd have to say it would have benefitted from some more robust editing, but don't let that stop you from enjoying the story - which is worth enjoying.
Mortimer would do well to be aware of the culture that is reading his work, as well as the culture of the world he's built - he really missed some great opportunities for a bit of social commentary, mostly by sidestepping it completely until a dramatic proclamation at the very end (and including what struck me as a very casual dismissal of rape culture).
He also starts a couple of times on a path towards examining humans' simultaneous love for ever-advancing technology and their need to use their own senses, but never follows through, which again I found disappointing.
The sci-fi content is, as previously stated, well built, and shouldn;t be off-putting to a reader new to the genre or used to lighter fare, but it has a deepness to it which should appeal to the hard sci-fi fan as well. Mortimer could go either way with this in the future, so it bears watching.
All in all - a good read. It wasn't long enough to become unwieldy, though it did leave me with the feeling that there just wasn't enough depth to the story. Darkness just didn't quite deliver on the promise it showed, but I have hope for Mortimer in the future. There's a good storyteller in there, and a dedicated worldbuilder to boot. This is a fellow worth watching!
Rating: Holiday read / Beginner Sci-Fi.